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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Is it wrong for a lawyer to consolidate two workman comp cases

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Is it wrong for a lawyer to consolidate two workman comp cases together in order to recoup loses from one of them that lose, when policy is if they don't win I pay nothing?

William B. Esq. :

Dear Customer, thank you for using our service. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I would like to assist you today.

William B. Esq. :

Compensation for your attorney is based entirely on your legal services agreement. In the case of contingency fee agreements (such as worker's compensation agreements), you need to look at the fee agreement that you signed with the attorney when you first hired the attorney for their services.

William B. Esq. :

If there are two fee agreements, each for a separate case, it is arguable that the fees should be separate and distinct, and thus the cases should not be consolidated for purposes of the attorney's fees award out of the worker's compensation court. On the other side, if you sign a single agreement for both injuries or cases, it is possible that the cases should be combined for a single return and single fee (even though only one was successful).

William B. Esq. :

In either case, this is a matter of contract, and the attorney's right to payment is based on the terms in the agreement. If your attorney has agreed to collect only based on the successful completion of each case individually, separation now that the cases are completed is improper.

William B. Esq. :

(My apologies - consolidation would be improper).

Customer:

two different cases, agreement states, their will be no charge unless recovery is made, what should I do next?

William B. Esq. :

Is there a single fee agreement?

Customer:

no

William B. Esq. :

And is there an "attorney's fees dispute clause" or similar section in either agreement?

Customer:

I thought the expense looked to much and asked for a copy of the expenses

Customer:

no

Customer:

that's when I saw the other cases expenses on it

William B. Esq. :

Your attorney should only be accepting the fee under the fee agreement for the prevailing case. His compensation is based on the contract, and if the contract does not cover the losing case, it should not be included.

Customer:

they told me they consolidated them to recoup expenses

Customer:

what should I do

William B. Esq. :

To deal with the problem you have some options - you can try negotiating with your attorney - usually a good first step - you can try getting a fee mediation (usually your local bar association will provide them for limited costs), or you can resort to a breach of contract suit (this is an expensive resolution, but it is available to you).

Customer:

they will not release my settlement unless I pay it

William B. Esq. :

The law firm should release the portion not in dispute, the part in dispute will have to remain in their attorney/client trust account (they cannot transfer it to the law firm) until the matter is resolved. You can process your worker's compensation dispute settlement (if you have not already done so) prior to settling with the law firm.

Customer:

I can not believe this is happening, thank you so much

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